News Briefs – June 11, 2018


U.S. soldier killed in Somalia identified

The U.S. soldier killed June 8 in an attack by extremists in Somalia has been identified as Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Ariz., the Pentagon said June 9.
Conrad died from injuries sustained from what it called enemy indirect fire, the Pentagon said.
Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C. According to Reuters, he had received numerous awards and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
Reuters also reported that Conrad was previously deployed to Afghanistan twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, for a total of more than 13 months.
This was the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death in Africa since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the West African nation of Niger in October.   
The four U.S. service members who were wounded have been treated and discharged, the U.S. military said Saturday. Their names were not yet released.
President Trump tweeted Friday his “thoughts and prayers are with the families of our serviceman who was killed and his fellow servicemen who were wounded in Somalia. They are truly all HEROES.” AP

U.S. military: 4 soldiers wounded in Somalia treated, in Kenya

Four U.S. service members who were wounded in an extremist attack in Somalia that killed one special operations soldier have been treated and discharged, the U.S. military said June 9.
A U.S. Africa Command statement said the four were in the care of the U.S. Embassy medical team in neighboring Kenya. They were awaiting transport “for additional medical evaluation.”
Names of the soldiers have not been released while the U.S. notifies next of kin.
This was the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death in Africa since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the West African nation of Niger in October.
The June 8 attack in Jubaland is likely to put renewed scrutiny on America’s counterterror operations in Africa.
U.S. troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire and one “partner force member” also was wounded in the attack about 217 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, the U.S. military said.
The alQaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which is based in Somalia and controls parts of the country’s rural south and central regions, claimed responsibility. The group was blamed for the truck bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people and raised concerns about al-Shabab’s ability to build ever-larger explosives.
The June 8 joint operation, part of a multi-day mission including about 800 Somali and Kenyan troops, aimed to clear al-Shabab from contested areas. The U.S. said its personnel had provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.
President Donald Trump in early 2017 approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, leading to an increase in U.S. military personnel to more than 500 and the launch of dozens of drone strikes. The U.S. had pulled out of the Horn of Africa nation after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.
Another U.S. service member in Somalia was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles west of Mogadishu. AP

Marine Corps weighs wooing older members for new cyber force

The head of the Marine Corps says it’s time the U.S. military branch known for its fierce, young warriors becomes a little more mature.
The Marine Corps is considering offering bonuses to woo older, more experienced Marines to re-enlist and join its cyber operations to defend the nation, especially against cyberattacks from Russia and China. About 62 percent of Marines are 25 years old or younger with many serving only four years.
The move marks an historical change that could transform a force considered to be the youngest branch in terms of the number of troops under the age of 25 in the U.S. military.
The commandant said he wants Marines to stay in longer to get a return on the investment in training troops in cyber operations. AP

U.S., Russian military leaders meet in Finland for talks

The top U.S. military chief met June 8 in Finland with his Russian counterpart to exchange views on U.S.-Russia military relations, Syria and the international security situation.
The meeting between Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russia’s chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, took place in Konigstedt Manor, a Finnish state-owned venue north of the capital, Helsinki.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Gerasimov and Dunford discussed European security issues and the situation in Syria.
A brief statement on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website stressed, without elaborating, that U.S. and Russian militaries “have undertaken efforts to improve operational safety and strategic stability.”
“Both (military) leaders recognize the importance of maintaining regular communication to avoid miscalculation and to promote transparency and de-confliction in areas where our militaries are operating in close proximity,” the U.S. statement said.
Neither Dunford nor Gerasimov spoke to media. “In accordance with past practice, both generals have agreed to keep the details of their conversations private,” the Joint Chief of Staff statement said.
On June 7, Dunford met separately with Finland’s military chief, Gen. Jarmo Lindberg who also held talks with Gerasimov.
Both military leaders had separate meetings with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto late June 8.
“It is important and a positive thing that this of kind dialogue takes place,” Niinisto’s office said. “Finland is happy to provide facilities for these kind of meetings.”
Finland hosted a similar meeting in 2008 at the same venue.
In April, NATO’s top military officer, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, met with Gerasimov in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was the first such encounter since relations between Moscow and the alliance sank to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis and Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. AP